The Cost of Living
cost of living kyoto travel
Of course, there are Japanese with excessive houses and cars and clothes. But so far, my impression is that these are exceptions that prove the rule.
So, how much do you need to be happy?
My point is not to make everyone feel guilty about their high cost of living, but rather to provoke some questions about what we need to be happy and get by.
What does it take for you to be happy? How much does your existence cost you, society, and the world? Can you change how much you cost?
We take for granted that many things must be big and expensive to be worthwhile. Clearly, that is not the case everywhere. Here are some assumptions we ought to question:
- A big house is necessarily better than a small one
- Luxury is better than spare living
- Two cars are better than one
- Owning a car is better than relying on public transport, a bicycle, or sharing a car
- Using natural resources to grow society is better than letting them exist for their own sakes
- More work and production is better than more leisure and less production
- More food is better than less food
- More money is better than less money
I'm surprised at how pleasant it is to stay in a place with hallways only as wide as I am and showers with only enough space to stand. I never thought I'd be able to get dry with such small towels, but it turns out to be fairly easy. Most things just require a bit more thought and presence-of-mind than I'm using to giving in the States. I have to remember to turn the hot water on for a shower, for example. I have to separate my trash to recycle every last bit of it.
Maybe the reason our country is in such dire economic, social, and political straits is because we think we need so much just to be happy. If you firmly believe that nothing less than 12 cylinders will be enough to handle your family's transportation needs, then you'll oppose any policies that make the SUV more difficult to acquire. But if you realize that you can get by, quite happily, with less, it becomes much easier to make the compromises needed for a sustainable society.
Japan also has a deep reverence for nature and trees, something else I wish we'd import.
Both are part of how the Japanese view the world. They only work as social policies because they are inherent in the Japanese worldview. To an American, they are unacceptable at worst and a pipe dream at best.
What a society deems as possible is largely dependent on what people's
is, and the benefit of travel has always been to give us new perspective.